Male sex work continues to undergo dramatic changes. We need research to improve our understanding of the challenges and opportunities that are relevant today. 

Sex and sex work have changed dramatically over the past few decades and the male sex industry is no exception.  Internet technologies have completely reshaped male sex work while new methods of HIV prevention continue to change how people think about 'safe' in terms of sex.  Change can bring opportunities but it can also bring challenges and our understanding of these challenges and opportunities for the buyers and sellers of male sex lags far-behind what is happening right now.  This project is an immersive exploration of male sex work in Australia, which aims to identify strategies for addressing the issues of relevance to male sex workers and their clients.

An immersive study of male sex work in Australia


This study aims to explore the challenges and opportunities facing male sex workers and their clients and, importantly, identify strategies for ensuring safe and satisfying sex work experiences.  

This is an ethnographic study, which simply means spending an extended period with a group of people to better understand their lives, perspectives and needs.  

There are two main components of this research: 

  1. In-depth interviews with male sex workers and sex work clients, and
  2. Field work in spaces for male sex work.

Interviews are a cornerstone of this project and they involve talking to buyers and sellers of male sex about their experiences with sex work, the negotiation of sex work, and their perceptions of particular topics, such as drug use and HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).  Interviews are also being conducted with people who are not sex workers but involved with the industry (such as brothel employees) to gain further insight into the modern settings for sex work in Australia.  

Field work is another key component of this project, which involves spending time in sex work spaces to understand how it operates on a daily basis.  These spaces include a male brothel, other locations of sex work and also virtual spaces, such as websites and applications.

At all times during this project, participant identities are protected.  This means that the things learned during this project cannot be linked back to individuals.  To learn more about how this project protects the identities of all participants, please visit the FAQ section.    



Dr Denton Callander
Research Fellow, Kirby Institute

Professor Basil Donovan
Program Head, Kirby Institute

Professor Victor Minichiello
Emeritus Professor, La Trobe University

Research Partners

This project is a collaboration between the Kirby Institute (UNSW Sydney), the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society (La Trobe University), The Sex Workers Outreach Project NSW (SWOP NSW) and the Scarlet Alliance.  Funding for this research is provided by a grant from the Australian Research Council.